Remembering Gaddafi, One Year Later

Gaddafi is Gone, the War Continues

I am a couple of days late in commemorating the date when Muammar Gaddafi was brutally lynched in Sirte, Libya, after first being bombed by NATO jets and surviving missiles fired from U.S. Predator drones, only to be sodomized with a knife, beaten, and then shot (by a French agent, as some officials allege). One of his attackers–one on a list–recently paid the price for this gruesome murder, by undergoing one of his own, allegedly at the hands of fighters in Bani Walid, which remains a liberated stronghold that was a bastion of popular support for Gaddafi. As I type this, Bani Walid is being bombarded and is under siege by vengeful militias from Misrata, who are unable to conceive of how Bani Walid should get away with the abduction of a small group of men, and the eventual death of one (mentioned above), when they themselves have abducted and tortured hundreds of residents from Bani Walid, none of whom have been returned to their families. This is the prosperous and happy life we see in the “new Libya,” democratic and peace-loving, with utmost reverence for human life. “Things are better,” now that a “dictator,” who never razed whole cities (i.e. Sirte, 2011) and eradicated entire populations (i.e. Tawargha), is gone.

Meanwhile, in the U.S., millions of people are about to go and reward with re-election one of the chief criminals responsible for the destruction of this once proud, defiant, and independent nation. I should be forgiven for thinking that some giant machine has sucked the souls and consciences out of such people.

African Reactions to Regime Change

“While the toothless bulldog of an African Union sat and watched so powerlessly
Libya was ransacked by mafias and ninjas so vehemently
What was his crime?
He wanted the African currency for his oil
He wanted to pay the price
He was slaughtered like a dog on his own soil
He rejected the Arab League and flocked with his African identity
He regretted his past and wanted to see Africa in total sanity
Muammar Al Gaddafi was a threat to western, hypocritical capitalists
Free food, shelter, healthcare and education, he gave to his people
As a champion of all African socialists. Huh!”—Blakk Rasta, “Gaddafi”.

“Gaddafi is gone, oh no! He was my brother, my father, my friend,” these and the words above came from a reggae band in Ghana and presented in a professional music video made by Ghana Music as part of the Blakk Rasta’s album, Born Dread (transcribed by Guanaguanare). Blakk Rasta, born Abubakar Ahmed, novelist, playwright, and a popular and sometimes “controversial” host of a radio show on Hitz 103.7 FM in Ghana, was responsible for greatly popularizing Barack Obama in Ghana in 2008 and produced a hit song about Obama, then meeting with Obama in person in 2009 for a photo op in which they had their arms around each other’s shoulder (The Buzz, 2009/6/15). Initially Blakk Rasta even criticized Gaddafi in one of his songs, “The Libyan War,” saying that Gaddafi had been “president for too long and would have to step down but kicking him out should not be done through a coup d’état, murder, assassination or killing”—and then Blakk Rasta began to turn against his former idol, Obama (CitiFMonline, 2011/11/6).

Things changed radically once NATO began bombing Libya and trying to overthrow Gaddafi. From then on, and especially after the gruesome publicized murder of Gaddafi, Blakk Rasta went on “a war path with the West for what he says is the deliberate assassination of an African savior,” Muammar Gaddafi. According to Blakk Rasta, “the West does not want Africa’s self-reliance and success thus killing the man who was fighting for the continent’s redemption”. He explained that the West (the U.S. and NATO) killed Gaddafi because he “wanted Africa to have one currency known as the Gold Dinar which would have destabilised all the wicked who have been sponging on Africa’s resources”. Now Blakk Rasta spoke of Gaddafi as a martyr and devoted Pan-Africanist, who had rejected the Arab League. Further praising Gaddafi, he added:

“He was giving his everything to see Africa strong remember he established three banks in Africa. He wanted to kick out the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The West was making a lot of money out of Africa and he didn’t like that so he established these banks and was on the verge of introducing with the support of other countries the Gold Dinar which would have Africa freer. We [Africans] wouldn’t have gone to the IMF to get any money, they [West] didn’t want that”. (Aglanu, 2012/1/14)

While it is difficult to know what depth of popular sentiment is represented by public figures prominent in African popular culture such as Blakk Rasta, there is no denying that there was an outpouring of grief in numerous cases recorded by African mass media and electronic media across the continent….[for more, continue reading the final chapter of Slouching Towards Sirte–please see below, plus see the little surprise I prepared for today (next post to come)]


SLOUCHING TOWARDS SIRTE: NATO’S WAR ON LIBYA AND AFRICA

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6 thoughts on “Remembering Gaddafi, One Year Later

  1. It is so deeply infested with crap, like quite a few other pieces by Curtis, that I don’t know where to begin in cleaning up the mess, nor do I have the time to do so right now. Let’s just put it this way for now: Curtis’ reading is partial, flawed, and inadequately informed by the mountains of research published by Libya and the publicly available archival documents. I don’t expect much better of the BBC.

  2. It is refreshing to see someone reminding us of other perspectives. Perspectives which have been, and continue to be, consistently silenced by mainstream media. I didn’t know the details of his death, I purposely stay away from that kind of news (including the murder of Saddam Hussein) because I can’t bare the brutality of it all. It’s a luxury, I know. I am happy to have gotten this information from you, of all writers and thinkers–I do believe you yield your pen responsibly and with integrity. Sending you lots of positive vibes from Copenhagen…& did I ever send you any of my publications? Let me know…I know I had intended to.

  3. Can’t wait to read the new book, Max. This comment – “I should be forgiven for thinking that some giant machine has sucked the souls and consciences out of such people” – deserves serious consideration. Along with the collective western shrug at Gaddafi’s brutal torture and death, it reminded me of an article I came across recently:

    http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/09/25/torture_creep

    I’m not a regular reader of FP; I found this via some other link, and the poll of course reiterates many earlier ones finding widespread US public support for torture, widespread US public ignorance of the Geneva Conventions, etc. Zegart found significant increases in torture endorsement since Obama came to power, but I think it was the 25% respondent sanction of a *nuclear bomb* against “terrorists” that got my attention. The deeper question though, is about the limited utility of atrocity exposure. The political value of articulating hidden histories, to put it in anthropological terms, seems to be a received wisdom among much of the left, and I often uncritically subscribe to it myself: “If we know, we will act, and therefore the more who know the better.” Certainly it underscores the Wikileaks zeitgeist, and is no conceit of the left alone as evidenced by the impulse of the powerful to concealment. Yet I’m dubious about the capacity for information to trump ideology, and sometimes I think we (me included) lean too confidently upon the prop of presumed conscientious concurrence – with exasperation the immediate fallback position when it fails – in our faith that something significant will happen when what’s done in the dark is brought to the light.

    I know this wasn’t the primary point of your post. Gaddafi’s murder, though, is a case in point (how quickly the champions of sacred American values such as due process deny them to the “enemy” while simultaneously refusing to contemplate that such an act thereby abrogates them altogether), so your (maybe offhand) comment about people sucked clean of their souls by some machine-like force struck a nerve with me. The Obama vote is much more complicated than that, bound up inextricably with America’s own racial political history, but the point stands for multiple other elections in which there was no such factor at stake. I labour under no illusion that American souls are any nobler than any others, and opinion polls of course don’t reveal the whole story, but I have considerable ethnographic experience in the sentiments expressed thereby; they aren’t a simple function of the questionnaire. I’m interested in this machine, what it is and how it works and what to call it and what to do about it. I know that my job as an organic intellectual entails talking about the hidden stuff my research training and academic privilege allows me to discover and critically evaluate, but I worry about what happens when the response is, “So what?” Hugh Gusterson’s work on “militarizing culture” has helped, but at some points it too seems to fall prey to the strategy of myth-busting without exploring the practical limitations of truth (the foil for myth in his closing pages), or the mediating functions of myths (god, did I just reference Levi-Strauss?) that make them difficult to surrender. Or maybe it’s the idea of “the machine” itself that’s the myth, our own very sacred one. In some ways, it seems to presuppose a corruption of people who otherwise conform to our idea of good, or did at once historical moment. That’s not a critique of you, Max, but me, as I think the sentiment resonated because I do believe it at some basic, unexamined level.

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